Press Release

IFI lands record recaptures of Atlantic bluefin tuna as fishing season nears end

Bluefin Tuna alongside boat

One of the first Atlantic bluefin tuna caught of the 2023 Tuna CHART season - captured, tagged and released off the Irish coast in late July.

Inland Fisheries Ireland has recorded two rare recaptures of tagged Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The angling season for bluefin tuna closes on November 12th.  

The first recaptured bluefin was tagged and released originally by skipper, Adrian Molloy on October 2nd 2020 in Donegal Bay. Three years later, the same fish was caught again on September 11th 2023 off the north-east coast of Spain.

The second bluefin was originally tagged and released by skipper, Tony Santry on August 23rd 2023 off the Kerry coast - and recaptured just 22 days later on September 14th 2023 off the west French coast. 

This Atlantic bluefin tuna had travelled a distance of 750km in three weeks, data showed.

Bluefin tuna

One of the first two Atlantic bluefin tuna caught of the 2023 Tuna CHART season - captured, tagged and released off the Irish coast in late July.

Dr William Roche of Inland Fisheries Ireland(IFI) said: “Atlantic bluefin tuna are leviathans of the sea, and a bucket list species for many anglers.

“For the first time in the five years of this programme, two recaptures have been recorded – that’s two from over 1,600 fish tagged.

“To date, 1,619 bluefin tuna have been tagged by skippers along the north west, west and south coast of Ireland since the Tuna CHART programme - an inter-agency Government research initiative - started in 2019.”

Recreational angling for Atlantic bluefin tuna is technically prohibited in Ireland. 

However, under the Tuna CHART programme, authorised charter skippers can catch, tag and release bluefin during the open season, with the help of anglers, as ‘citizen scientists’, on board.

This scientific tuna fishery targets the largest tuna species to collect information on their sizes, and where and when they occur in Irish waters.  

The largest tuna tagged to date in the programme was 2.75m long, and weighed an estimated 372kg. 

In 2022, 382 Atlantic bluefin tuna were caught, tagged, and released around the Irish coast by authorised skippers. 

Skippers willingly provide their expertise to the programme and can charge anglers for bluefin tuna trips on their vessels.

Measuring, tagging and releasing bluefin tuna is carried out in the water alongside the boat, which progresses slowly at speeds of 2-3 knots, to ensure the fish remains in the best possible condition. 

Bluefin are caught in area that extends from approximately 1km from the shore out to a maximum of about 20 km.